Supreme Court Rules for Data Miner IMS Health

Advertisers were closely watching case

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of IMS Health and two other researchers, and against a Vermont statute that sought to prevent data about the drugs individual doctors prescribe from being used to market to those doctors without their permission.

The case, argued before the Court in late April, was being closely watched by the advertising community. Citing First Amendment concerns, advertisers were worried that if the Vermont statute were upheld, it could lead to other limitations of commercial free speech in advertising and marketing. In support of IMS, the Association of National Advertisers and 50 other organizations filed 16 friend of the court briefs urging the Court to rule against Vermont. 

"Speech in aid of pharmaceutical marketing…is a form of expression protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. As a consequence, Vermont's statute must be subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny. The law cannot satisfy that standard," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. 

The decision, on which the judges were split 6-3, was announced Thursday.